Book Processing

More on Brain Integration

More on Brain Integration

More on Brain Integration

I continue diving into the book, The Whole-Brain Child, and now we are looking at brain integration. My last post, linked below, states, “Integration takes the distinct parts of your brain and helps them work together as a whole.” When you or your child are overwhelmed, or your emotions begin to take over (chaos) completely, you are not in a state of integration. You are in a state of dis-integration. That is not where you want to be.

It is easy to find yourself in the swirl of dis-integration. I can calm down and reflect on why I’m reacting the way I am, but in the end, you have to work in full brain integration mode. You must not be living and responding from the “downstairs” part of your brain.

Types of Integration

First, you have the “horizontally integrated” type. This type taps into your left brain logic which works well with the right brain emotion. Also, you want to be “vertically integrated.” Doing this allows your upstairs brain to work well with your downstairs brain. The upstairs part of your brain helps you think about your actions. The downstairs portion of your brain is about instinct, gut reactions, and survival. I can honestly say that I’ve been in survival mode for the last, I don’t know, 14 years or so.

There is good news, though. Your brain is malleable. Being malleable means, you can make new tracks. Your reactions don’t have to follow the ditches that you have so carefully constructed. You can veer off course and make new roads, new pathways. Your neurons can detour anywhere you want them to. Eventually, those old ditches full of trauma, bad reactions, and intense emotions begin to fill in. A new road permanently replaces them! Your brain can be in a constant state of road repair. Honestly, this is excellent news.

“When neurons fire together, they grow new connections between them. Over time, the connections that result from firing lead to ‘rewiring’ in the brain. Such inspiring news. It means that we aren’t held captive for the rest of our lives by how our brain works at the moment – we can rewire it to be healthier and happier.”

River of Well-Being

When our brains are well integrated, it is like we are sitting in a boat or on a raft, just floating down the river. The water is calm; the weather is perfect. You are at peace. When dis-integration occurs, the current can shift you to the left (chaos) or the right (rigidity).

Chaos is when you “feel out of control…confusion and turmoil rule the day.” So, you quickly try to get back in the center of the water but accidentally veer to the right side of your brain, rigidity—the opposite of chaos. “Rigidity is when you are imposing control on everything and everyone around you. You become completely unwilling to adapt, compromise, or negotiate.” In the end, one side lacks control, and the other is too much control, leading to a lack of flexibility and adaptability.

Recounting This Past Week

I can see that one child was living on the right side of his brain. Chaos ruled his world. This child was not living in that peaceful water spot.

On the other hand, I was utterly working from the left side of my brain. My raft was firmly in the smelly, reed-filled water of rigidity. I wanted to control the situation and have everyone back in the river’s center. It was my way or no way. There was no connection, no discussion, nothing. Neither of us was in that sweet spot of integration.

“If you see chaos and/or rigidity, you know someone is not in a state of integration. Likewise, when someone is in a state of integration, they demonstrate the qualities we associate with someone who is mentally and emotionally healthy: they are flexible, adaptive, stable, and able to understand themselves and the world around them.”

Brain Integration

Ultimately, the fact that our brain is plastic and can change gives me hope. Yet, I struggle with staying in the middle of the lake, cruising along without a care. I veer onto both sides of the lake with great ease. By doing that, I’m risking the heart connection I desire with all my children and husband. I have got to figure out a way to recognize what I’m doing/saying and stop myself in my tracks. There has got to be a point where I can remember these issues. I want to be an ally for them instead of their enemy.

How do I do that? That is the question.

Book Processing

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

A Survive Moment is also a Thrive Moment

This book has a lot of information in it. There is a lot to process (for me). I might write on this and sprinkle some of my new recipes in the mix. Honestly, not sure. There is a lot that I need to reconcile, apologize for, and start over. I pray that my children do not repeat the same things that I have done and learn from my mistakes. Also, I pray that they forgive me for my many shortcomings and remember more good than bad.

The Whole-Brain Child

Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson start this book by taking ordinary, challenging moments and rethinking how you, as a parent, respond. “Instead of just breaking up the fight and sending the sparring siblings to different rooms, you can use the argument as an opportunity for teaching: about reflective listening and hearing another person’s point of view; about clearly and respectfully communicating your desires; about compromise, sacrifice, negotiation, and forgiveness.”

Will we always take every moment captive and do this very thing? No. That is not realistic. I wish it were. Sometimes I wish I could step back in the past and redo it when I have a challenging moment concerning my kids. Trauma is a weird thing, and it can be consuming. There are a few of my kids that come from trauma. Their beginnings weren’t great, but their middle and, hopefully, the end will be less traumatic. They will have been able to reparent themselves in tense situations. Moments can be captured where they can go back and say, “what would I have done differently?” Moments where they need to forgive someone or themselves (or me) and extend grace to themselves and others.

Being the Expert on Your Child

I learned this statement a long time ago. When H got sick, we went to 5 hospitals and two other facilities. What they saw was a name on a chart and a frantic mom. I sat and listened to them say things like “succumb debilitating, wheelchair, chemotherapy, and Plasmapheresis.” In the beginning, I did everything they said.

Then, I realized that I was the expert, not them. I took back control and began using my voice and advocating for him in a way that I was too scared to do the first time. There was no longer a time when I sat back and blindly said “yes” to any of them. I questioned, researched, had many lists, and consulted with other doctors from other states. I was his expert.

So, now that I can advocate for my child(ren), grandchildren, and myself better (not entirely but better), I can take that into their mental health and trauma. I can become an expert on that to the best of my ability.

In The Whole-Brain Child, it says, “the brain itself is significantly shaped by the experiences we offer as parents, knowing about the way the brain changes in response to our parenting can help us to nurture a stronger, more resilient child.” Quickly, I could throw my hands up and say, ‘I’ve waited too long, I’ve done too much damage. I should just keep my eyes above the waves and let their therapist handle it.’

Yet, here I am, reading books, learning, praying, and hoping that the difference I make now will filter down to my grandchildren and great-grandchildren until Jesus returns. Today, I have royally screwed up. Moments of sheer insanity, but then there were moments when I pulled my crap together and got to the root of something. One moment of healing will hopefully overshadow the moment of stupidity.

Repeatedly Telling the Story

Repeatedly telling the story is one thing that we do. I do this more with H and his medical trauma than I did with anyone else. My adult children would probably tell me to shut my piehole. His medical trauma is ongoing, and there have been some scary moments. Note that he got sick when he was three years old. He has, physically, been through more than what most adults will ever go through.

What I do, for him, is I get copy paper and fold it in half to create a book. I stable the “bind” of the book to make it easier for him. Next, we go through the scary story. The last one we did was on plasmapheresis. It was terrifying.

He retells me the story of what he remembers, and I write it down. Where he doesn’t remember, I fill in the blanks with facts of the story. After that, he illustrates it however he wants. Once that is done (sometimes it can take a while, but I try to do it immediately), we go over the book multiple times.

It is his story, in his words, with his emotions. Then you add in my facts or my fill-in-the-blanks. Doing this allows him to take this core memory that has scared him and process it. Doing this won’t remain a traumatic memory; it will be filed accordingly in his brain and be a memory. Honestly, it helps me as well. That is why I blog. I do that to process some tough stuff.


I didn’t realize that I was helping him with integration. “Integration takes the distinct parts of your brain and helps them work together as a whole. Integration is simply linking different elements together to make a well-functioning whole.”

Who knew? I sure didn’t.

Dis-integration is defined as the loss of integration. When you are working out of your “downstairs” brain or veering too closely to the rigid or chaotic side of your brain, you will find that you are dealing with the loss of integration of your brain working as a whole.

The goal is to help our children (ourselves, or anyone really) to stay in that sweet spot of the water. Remember to process the junk in the Amygdala. Then, move into the “upstairs” part of our brain. From there, we can sail down the middle of rigidity and chaos.

Be on the lookout for all my thoughts on that. I know you are all on the edge of your seat!